To be honest, the undersigned never thought for a minute that a motorcycle racing movie could please him for even a minute. Those camera-shy racers who are all selling the standard boring press talk, so that some images of racing motorcycles can be sold to the uninspired Veronica magazine audience. That was the picture, but it turned out to be an estimation error! ‘TT: Closer to the Edge’ turns out to be just one hell of a documentary!
Every year thousands of racing fans gather for the TT on the normally so picturesque Isle of Man. It is here that every year some daredevils dare to get on their motorcycles to compete for the coveted Tourist Trophy. This means that they race at speeds of 250 km per hour through the narrow roads and streets of the track without any form of safety measures. Except for the presence of an ambulance, the motorcyclists are completely dependent on their own ability.
What drives the racers to take part in this madness, director De Aragues manages to expose razor sharp. We see men who are all driven by the thrill of racing with death, a passion that most resembles a drug addiction. These men live for the sport and are happy to accept the risk of dying. Reflection is therefore not an option. Everyone speaking in the film agrees that they may not be there tomorrow, but they all dismiss that risk as something that simply belongs to it. Even though they almost all know someone in their environment who has been fatal for racing. By sketching this context of death and adrenaline, you suddenly look very differently at the spectacular racing images that are processed in the film and you have an even more intense experience with the protagonists. Certainly, because you have a good sense that someone could die at any moment. That sounds morbid, but at the same time you get the strong impression that this is precisely the secret instrument of the TT. Without that risk, the challenge wouldn’t be the same.
The camera crew present especially has an eye for Guy Martin, the casual racer who, unlike his colleagues, knows how to bring a certain charisma. Although the film tries to paint a complete picture of the madness that is called TT, we mainly sympathize with Guy. We see the preparations, the mandatory press moments, the practice laps and then finally the exciting moments just before the race when every racer realizes that his last hour may have hit. These are all moments that Guy manages to make even more absurd than they actually are with his humorous perspective. Race fan or not: you too will be on the edge of your seat when the final TT kicks off and Guy takes a shot at the championship. The thrill you feel as the racers fly through the corners at ridiculous speeds, no Hollywood production can compete with that. This documentary has at least convinced someone: motorcycle racing? Cool!